It is through the prism of English cricket that it is perhaps most appropriate to experience cricket's evolution.
Appropriate because while it may be eternally frustrating, nothing quite emphasises the distance cricket has come nor the struggles it has had with itself than checking out the view of the Indian Premier League from behind an MCC curtain.
That is not to say English cricket's conservatism or antiquity are things I, as an English resident, am proud of—quite the opposite. Rather they are things that are and things that have been, things that are wound into the fabric and history of the sport, and in that they can teach us the true depth of cricket's evolution in a way no alternative view can.
Today I was reminded of such subtle realisations as England spluttered to another awfully predictable ODI defeat against India in Cardiff.
For it is only when you compare where England are now in 50-over cricket to where the rest of the world are in the format that you can appreciate the true scope of the format's growth, and therefore England's stagnation.
This defeat bore nothing new from England; rather, against the backdrop of Suresh Raina's hundred, MS Dhoni's fifty and indeed, AB de Villiers' and Faf Du Plessis' hundreds in Zimbabwe, it was just another monotonous reminder of England's shortcomings.
While England's well-documented number-based approach to the format appears modern and techy (how many backroom staff and laptops were needed to work out those equations?), Flowermetrics takes the concept of utilising a "process" to a level well above and beyond the norm.
England are trying to play maths with a format that other countries are setting on fire in the science lab.
The advent of T20 cricket has liquified 50-over cricket, accelerating its processes and revolutionising its idiosyncrasies. The chasm between Test cricket and the two limited-overs formats is forever widening. Skills from five-day cricket are still transferable to 50-over cricket, but they're out of date.
Skills from T20 are transferable to 50-over cricket and they're still changing rapidly. What is new is already old. T20 has made the evolution of 50-over cricket so fluid it can no longer even really be assessed, it can only be experienced.
Like T20, 50-over cricket is a format of power, dynamism, gut and instinct. England need to stop reading the game and start feeling the game. If it just seems right to promote Jos Buttler to No. 3 for a run chase, then promote him to No. 3.
Screw the stats, forget the rule book and disregard the practice drills. Admittedly, it's a mixture of bluster, bravado and arrogance, but England are all about rules, lists and strategies. Limited-overs cricket has become all about reaction, not the manifestation of pre-planned action.
England still treat ODIs as short Test matches; the rest of the world treats them as long T20 matches.
Nothing exemplifies quite how far England are missing the mark than that. They're not only losing in the format, they're playing a different format altogether.
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